Meatworks close for virus precautions

Covid-19 cases related to the Bluff wedding cluster have led to the closing of a deer meatworks and the partial closure of another plant, both near Invercargill.

It comes as the Ministry of Health says the number of cases connected to the wedding, held on March 21, increased by 12 to 34 yesterday.

Silver Fern Farms has temporarily shut its Kennington deer plant near Invercargill as well as its Te Aroha beef plant in Waikato because four staff at the two sites tested positive for Covid-19. The company would not say how many were at each site.

"Kennington is currently paused as a precaution, given the potential for exposure due to close contact (its a very small site which had close working conditions prior to restrictions coming in place)," Silver Fern Farms chief executive Simon Limmer wrote in a note to staff.

He said the staff members tested positive for Covid-19 after attending the wedding in Bluff, which the Ministry of Health attributes with spreading the virus to 34 people.

"We are very pleased with the way our employees have followed all the correct procedures around informing us when they recognised the symptoms and we thank them, and their colleagues at our sites, for their professionalism through this challenging time,'' Mr Limmer said.

Kennington was scheduled to reopen on April 8 but Te Aroha was fully operational again, Mr Limmer said.

"All affected staff members are recovering well at home."

Mr Limmer said the company followed Ministry of Health guidelines to identify people who would be close contacts and they have been isolated and tested.

Alliance Group said it had to shut a processing room at its Lorneville plant near Invercargill yesterday while it awaited the Covid-19 test of an employee who had close contact with someone who also had attended the Bluff wedding and tested positive.

"In line with advice from the Ministry of Health and Ministry for Primary Industries, we have intensively cleaned and disinfected the processing room and amenities," Alliance Group general manager of people and safety Chris Selbie said.

"We have briefed staff on the situation and processing will resume[on Thursday night]. The individual is not displaying any symptoms.”

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